As the era of player empowerment continues to grow in the league, player movement, even among the youngest stars, has never seemed more possible. There have never been so many player moves in the NBA. Detroit fans need only look in their own backyards, as the Detroit Pistons brass have completely revamped the roster in two years. Heck, Sekou Doumbouya was the sole survivor of Troy Weaver’s first offseason at the helm.
However, amidst the transactional chaos, the restricted free agency market remained constant. This is the one area of free will where the front office retains the most bargaining power. Therefore, it’s incredibly rare for a player to trade teams through restricted free agency, especially if he’s coming off a breakout season with averages of; 20 points, 7 rebounds and 3.8 assists.
That brings us to Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges and the potential for him to be a target for the space-rich Pistons, who also have an obvious hole in the vanguard after the trade. by Jerami Grant.
In October of last year, the Hornets and Bridges were unable to reach an agreement by the rookie extension deadline as the Flint native turned down a 4-year, $60 million offer from Charlotte. Entering his fourth year as a professional, the 24-year-old has successfully bet on himself, having a career year and significantly increasing his value in the league.
Last season, Bridges posted career highs in; points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks, all while maintaining decent scoring efficiency, essentially playing what many perceived as a $130 million contract max. But this is where things get a little complicated.
Athleticism Shams Charania reported on June 20 that:
Rival executives expect Hornets restricted free agent Miles Bridges to order a max – or near max – deal in July, and sources have said Charlotte is reluctant to match a max sheet.
Charania’s report doesn’t indicate a Bridges departure, but one potential possibility is that Mitch Kupchack and the Hornet’s front office would rather let the free agency market dictate Bridges’ value, rather than offer him the full max.
To add more fuel to the fire, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer noted in a June 21 article:
the Pistons and Pacers, sources said, have plans to hunt players in the restricted free agent market and have been the only teams linked as potential threats to sign talented forward Miles Bridges from the Charlotte Hornets.
Like many rumors, Fischer’s report is absolutely true, but it would be irresponsible for Detroit management, after a third consecutive 20-win season, not to take an interest in a 24-year-old budding star.
Yesterday, Bridges caught the attention of NBA Twitter when he was quoted deleting any affiliation with the Hornets in his Twitter bio:
The updated biography quickly lit up the Twitterverse, with a host of reactionary fanfares signaling a team change on the horizon for the former Michigan Spartan. Detroit fans, in particular, took the news and ran with it. The thought of a young star returning to his home state of Michigan is the sports version of a Cinderella ending.
However, while many wish to believe that Bridges’ social media play signifies a team change, the maneuver could simply be leverage play from Bridges executive Klutch Sports. Citing social media pressure from Hornets fans, Klutch could use fan outrage as leverage, to ensure his client receives the maximum from the Hornets.
Finally, following Detroit’s successful draft, James Edward III from Athletic reported that:
According to the sources, Detroit is eager to continue rebuilding toward the playoffs with the aforementioned young core, and the Pistons should use the majority of their remaining cap space to add several veteran plays rather than just one big swing this offseason, per sources.
Therefore, with those comments in mind, it would be shocking if Weaver offered Bridges a 4-year/$130 million deal. Detroit is now clearly focused on construction with its young core of Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren. While Bridges is a fringe All-Star talent, bringing him in could potentially stunt the growth of the Pistons’ young restoration pieces.